OR, A Letter to Myself 24 Hours ago (The Original)
Dear Ms. T,
I know that you’re scared right now.
I know that, actually, you’re terrified. You’ve spent most of the past few weeks in a blind panic, and you’ve been trying to run away from that with lesson planning or, literally, running as fast as you can. Now, the night before (you procrastinator you), you’re beginning to feel it.
First: It’s okay. Breathe. Embrace the panic. You can’t always get away from it, but some aspect of this anxiety has actually, in some ways, become a strength. You are planned. You are more ready than you ever have been.
Second: Trust. Trust lots of things. Trust that you can do this. I know you’re scared that you’ll be a failure, but remember that even when you do, it’s not really a failure. It’s a journey. It’s an experience. You don’t have your students for an hour— you have them for a year and, sometimes, for a lifetime. Trust that the mistakes you make together will only make you better.
Third: Believe. In the kids, of course, but in yourself as well. You can already tell that it won’t be easy, that some days will test your patience and your worth. That things won’t go perfectly. Right now, you are falling into the old trap of walking on eggshells— of setting the stakes so high that one step means you’ve thrown it all down the drain.
But you haven’t. Believe in your ability to adapt, to roll with the punches, to handle the moment and move on.You are entering the classroom more prepared than you ever did before. Each year from now on you will be more prepared than the last. Believe that each year you are only adding another year of knowledge and more tools to your practice for success. You won’t always be as young as you are now, but you will always be smarter the next day than you were before.
Finally, smile! I promise, after the initial shock of it all wears off, you’ll want to laugh. Despite how tired you are in this moment, today was fun. Teaching is important, hard, testing, stressful at times, one of the most deserving professions— yes,— but it’s also really fun. Don’t forget that! On the days that feel like too much, the times where you might want to scream, don’t forget that a lot days are a hoot, and you have so much to learn from these kids.
With lots of aloha,
Thoughts brought on by the murders of Mike Brown, then Trayvon, and on and on.
There are too many bodies strewn in streets
that we can no longer pretend are far away. Too
many streams flowing from the hearts of our black and
brown children and their families to pretend
it’s just a video game of a far away place.
This is no 8-bit heart swifty sliced to half of its power
in the top right corner of the game. There is no floating diamond
we can grab that magically restores us. We do not
get to pause the round and readjust the settings.
The college acceptance letter does give us its promised protection,
the “good upbringing” doesn’t restore the hearts of a country
broken . What’s worse—the thing that should matter the most—
the sheer innocence, the fact that their only crime is living in a hue
you were told WAS the error on your TV— this is never enough.
The petty apologies of those in charge
are no riddle to be unlocked that will
make the game easier. This poem has no
answers. It will not restart when it dies.
None of us do.